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|Sheri Farinha and Marla Hatrak||March 9th 2011|
We appeal to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: All eyes across America are on New York’s legislative session, and we are joining millions of Americans to strongly object to your proposed budget elimination of the 4201 Schools for the Deaf. We strongly recommend that you take this proposed elimination of 4201 State Schools for the Deaf off the table. Not only would the proposed elimination of 4201 be in violation with Federal and state mandates, and unethical being that there has been virtually no deaf and hard of hearing stakeholder input to such proposal prior to this session, but the astronomical cost factor to the state would far outweigh the existing line item costs the state currently expends to provide quality education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students throughout the state of New York. Each school district has been unable to serve the students which is why they were referred to receive an education at one of the 4201 Schools. The cost to New York would be additional funding to every school district throughout the state: 1) for personnel they currently do not have for age appropriate placement; 2) critical mass needed per class per district , which would mean additional salaries and benefits and classroom costs for hiring new and qualified teachers for the Deaf; 3) not to mention, the state personnel board would need to fund hiring human resources personnel to locate such teachers to ensure their qualifications and certification clearly show Deaf Education expertise as well as fluent in American Sign Language. Additional costs to school districts are: 1) sign language interpreters (of which there is a paucity of actual qualified interpreters); 2) auxiliary aids, and other assistive devices for every classroom in every school district.
If placement is out of line with every child’s IEP, every parent will have due process to file suit against the state of New York. Bottom line, the cost to shift the 4201 Schools for the Deaf to ill-prepared school districts could result in approximately over $150 million above the cost of the existing line item. Whatever for? We believe you have been ill-advised and request that you step forward to reverse this proposed line item elimination. Stand for quality, equality, and advocate for the minority – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students who reside in New York – 4201 Schools for the Deaf. Do the right thing – take the elimination off the table.
Sheri Farinha and Marla Hatrak are co-Chairs of the California Stakeholders for ASL & English.